16th Street, South Side

South 16th Street

Looking south on South 16th Street toward the South Side Slopes. Note the large number of aluminum awnings, which used to be even more ubiquitous in Pittsburgh; the back streets of Old Birmingham are the best place to see them now.

Kosciusko Way, South Side Slopes

Kosciusko Way, apparently named for the famous Polish hero of the Revolutionary War, is a narrow and crowded street that makes a brave attempt to go straight up from Josephine Street into the South Side Slopes, but makes it only a block before being utterly defeated by topography.

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Eleanor Street, South Side Slopes

One of Pittsburgh’s distinctive features is the huge number of public stairways. Many streets that appear on maps are actually stairways, like Eleanor Street here. In the early days of GPS navigation, trip instructions would often send drivers up or down these streets; but most GPS systems have now learned to recognize the streets that can accommodate pedestrians only.

And bicycle cops. To be a Pittsburgh bicycle cop, you have to be able to ride down one of these stairways. If you are still alive at the bottom of it, you’re qualified.


Map

Open Street Map does a good job of showing the public stairways on the South Side Slopes. All the denser red dotted lines are stairways. The narrower, sparser dotted lines are walkways.

Terraced Streets on the South Side Slopes

Some neighborhoods are so steep that the only way to build a street parallel to the slope is to do it in two parts. These two streets on the South Side Slopes are on the list of Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation historic landmarks, but they are not the only terraced streets in the city. The same thing happens in Beechview, for example, another neighborhood laid out in defiance of topography. Above is Stella Street; below, Shelly Street.

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Greeley Street

It is utterly absurd that anyone would think of running a street up into this deep and narrow ravine cut into the South Side Slopes; but this is Pittsburgh, and we make absurd adaptations to an absurd topography. How long before those enthusiastic wild grapes swallow those helpless little frame houses?


Map